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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Justin McRoberts new album "Father" digs deep into the surface
By Andy Argyrakis
Singer, songwriter, and acoustic guitarist Justin McRoberts has been pulled in many positive and painful directions over the last two years. He's seen a record deal with Five Minute Walk Records, formed his opinions about the Christian music scene, and experienced the tragic suicide of his father. But with all of the success, craziness, and uncertainly, he's found out that God makes things happen for a reason, and just because he can't always understand those reasons, doesn't mean that he doesn't trust Him. McRoberts latest album, "Father," chronicles his triumphs and heartache and while attempting to define who he is as a musician and messenger.
Q: What's happened in the year since you debuted with Reason for Living?
McRoberts: In the fall of last year I was out with Five Iron Frenzy and in the spring I toured with Bebo Norman. On the FIF tour, I was the weenie with the guitar that played quiet music. That was quite a contrast on the other tour because I was the loudest. Plus there was a lot of downtime in the studio to record the Father album. There was a was lot of time in prayer and being still to see what God had in store for me.
Q: What was performing like for you during that first year?
McRoberts: It was pretty much me and the guitar. For me it's a lot more fun right now with just a guitar, but I guess eventually it could be with a band. Being alone let me communicate who I was and gave it a much more intimate feel. I suppose people can do that with a band, it's just that right now that would not be comfortable for me.
Q: How would you describe your live sound?
McRoberts: I'm not much of the arena rocker. I'm more into people like Tom Petty, who's a great songwriter. I'm not much of a country type fan, but I like Lyle Lovett because he's a craftsman. I'm into having deeper songs that mean something rather than a lot of show and depth.
Q: Have you found the Christian market to provide such depth?
McRoberts: There's a lot of really shallow, low content based stuff in the Christian market. Not to sound rude, but in some cases the message is just not going deep. The industry has taken a weird turn by investing a lot into the musical sound of a project rather than making sure it has good words.
Q: So what is your take on Christian musicians calling themselves ministers?
McRoberts: The music we make is entertainment, but it makes us feel like we're doing ministry. Pulling in a big, hot Christian band and then asking a bunch of 14 year old Christians who go to a Christian school to bring their non-Christian friends to the concert is not something that happens successfully. Chances are those kids don't have many, if any non-Christian friends... Let's face it, non Christian folks don't go to Christian events. Those non-Christians are more impressed with the church that outreaches to the community around them rather than those that spend way too much time entertaining themselves.
Q: You seem to make the point that you wouldn't consider yourself a minister, but a lot of people are still moved by your messages. How do you plan for that to continue on the new album?
McRoberts: There is a little more continuity and a lot more cohesiveness. The album is more sonically atmospheric and the songs were written in a closer time period. Lyrically, I just share what God's been doing in my life. Most of that basis is off of my dad's suicide.
Q: What led him to the tragedy?
McRoberts: At 56 years of age my dad thought his life was threatened. He was in the threat of losing his job and was worried that he would no longer get to maintain a certain socio-economic level. He found such things to make him feel like a failure and he couldn't take it anymore. His decision was to take his life with a hand gun in his very own backyard. Unfortunately, that's how my dad saw his life--as a failure. In reality, doesn't the crucifixion look like a failure? If he could have just had more faith to see that he wasn't a failure from a Biblical perspective.
Q: How have you personally dealt with the suicide and how do you feel it has made you stronger?
McRoberts: Death is something that you don't deal with. It pretty much deals with you. The more I think I about the why's of the situation, the more I get confused and frustrated. The more I just rest and not question it, the more I just trust Him. It seems wrong to me as a moral person that God allows something like my father's suicide, but he does and that's His deal. I'm not in a position to be like Adam and question him. I've learned that God is not based on understanding. The more you read His word, the more you will see that and the more you will see God and he will take care of you